6:15 - I get up without the benefit of any alarm other than my bladder. It actually woke me up about 20 minutes ago, but the rest of me was just not as eager to get moving. I can hear the talking heads on the news talking about the snow, so I finally think it must be time to make the big trip across the room to the master bath. As my right foot hits the ground and attempts to support my weight, pain shoots all the way up my leg to the knee. As far as I know, I have not done anything to my foot, it is just one of those morning pains that comes with aging gracefully. It is almost like a lottery for me each morning. Which part is going to hurt today? This one actually scares me a little, and I almost take a nose dive into the carpeting, but cat-like reflexes honed by years of practice stumbling around in the dark keep me somewhat upright. When I reach the bathroom, I peek out the window, and indeed there is a fresh blanket of white stuff covering everything I can see. Judging by the amount on the roof of my car, I would guess about three or four inches. The plow has not come to visit our corner of the world yet, so it is a little difficult to make out where the driveway ends and the street begins. The next thing I notice about a half a minute too late is that there is no toilet paper.
6:19 – I make the walk of shame down the hallway to the kid’s bathroom and finish what I started. I grab an extra roll of paper on my way back to the bedroom. Alex and Molly are both sound asleep and their lights are on. They both also have the blankets pulled up over their heads to block out the light. Alex also has the theme music from the My Name Is Earl DVD he watched playing way too loud. I turn off the tv but leave the light on. He wont bother getting out of bed to restart the DVD, but if I flip off the light he would have it back on before I even reached my room.
6:25 – I place the fresh roll of paper next to the empty roll without changing it. Usually this is a giant pet peeve of mine, but I decide it is more important to gather a little warmth from the bed than to actually change the roll. Maureen is still under the covers, so I slide up as close as possible, trying to steal a little of her warmth. She rolls over and gives me a groggy good morning.
6:30 - Maureen’s alarm goes off. We hear the traffic report tell us that the roads are bad all over. The worst in I55, the Stevenson. It is already up to an hour and a half into the city. Of Course.
6:45 - We finally give in to the fact that we have to get going. I dress for the weather and head downstairs to make coffee and clear the driveway. I dig through the hall closet to find my boots, but my hat and gloves are not to be found. I dig through the bin under the coat hooks in the hall and all I can find is a mismatch of Molly size gloves and snowpants. Aggravated, I grab Maureen’s extra gloves from the top shelf in the closet. I can’t find a hat, but I have on a hooded sweatshirt so I head out to shovel. I forget to start the coffee.
7:18 – The driveway is clear except for the new snow that continues to fall. I leave my boots in the garage and head inside. Maureen, the wonderful woman that she is, has made the coffee and says absolutely nothing about the fact that I forgot. I don’t have time for a cup yet, so I give Maureen a kiss as she busily kills a few people and head upstairs towards the shower. I can hear Alex in the bathroom, but Molly is still lost somewhere under her covers. I shake her bed and tell she needs to get going, then I head for the shower.
7:35 – I dress as quickly as possible because I have just heard the TV people tell me that the travel time on the Stevenson is now two hours. I have to be at work by 10. I can not be late. I put on my shoes and rush outside. Maureen has already left, so I pull my car into the garage to warm up for a few minutes. No time for coffee at home, but this really nice good-looking grey guy bought Maureen a couple of travel mugs for Christmas, and he is about break one in. The green travel mug we got from Maureen’s mom is also missing, so I assume it hit the road while I was in the shower. The remaining coffee fills my mug up right to the top, and I head to the door.
7:39 – Maureen calls to confirm that traffic sucks. Molly’s bus does not arrive until 8:38, but it has been late almost every day this week. I tell her that it is very important that she let me know that she is on the bus, because I won’t be able to turn around to get her if something goes wrong. She promises to call or text me as soon as she is on the bus. The car is adequately warm, but still somewhat snow-covered. I back out of the driveway and head on my merry way.
7:45 – The main road that goes by the entrance to our neighborhood is called Lilly Cashe. It is usually about a two or three minute drive down that street to Route 53 and the entrance for the expressway. I am still trying to turn out of my neighborhood. As per Maureen’s advice, I am going to skip the Stevenson and try to take back roads as far as I can. The radio has confirmed that the trip inbound will be more than two hours now.
7:53 – I can see from down on 53 that the traffic on the Stevenson is not moving at all. I get lucky with the series of three lights, and make my illegal U-turn onto the frontage road. I can only top out at 25 mph but it is still flying past the cars stopped on the expressway. I make a right turn onto International Drive, and much to my surprise it is empty. I luck out again, and catch the light at Joliet Road. The traffic gods are with me, even if the weather gods have been angered. The rest of the trip down International is pretty quick given it is still very snow-covered. I have to pull a few slalom moves around some slow moving cars, but for the most part it stays clear. That ends as soon as I get to the end of the line at Lemont Road. The light takes a lot longer than I would like, and I have a hard time accelerating as I make my left turn.
8:12 - It is decision making time. I can already see up ahead that the Stevenson is still backed up. I make the turn onto Westgate, but then it is almost an immediate left onto the next frontage road. I wonder for a second if Westgate goes all the way through to Cass, but with time not being on my side I decide this is not the day to find out. I make the left a little too late and a lot too fast. The back end of the old grey Chevy Malibu starts to slide. I instantly flash back to the old driving simulators in Mr. Neuhaus’ Driver’s Ed class. I don’t break even though I am traveling too fast, and I turn into the skid. I have to do this a few times, but then the car is facing forward and is under control. I’m as proud as Anthony Michael Hall at the end of The Breakfast Club. The journey continues.
8:20 – I reach Cass Avenue and have to now commit to the Stevenson. The frontage route from Cass to Kingery runs through a neighborhood, and is never an easy drive even on a clear day. I flip around the radio stations to get a traffic update. Someone has a sence of humor. They are playing Burning for You by Blue Oyster Cult. I start making mental notes to myself. I may have to do a follow-up to my Day In A Life blog from a few months ago. I mean, I might as well do something with my time. I could still be another hour and a half.
8:30 - I make it into traffic on the Stevenson and proceed at a whopping speed of 15 mph. Molly calls to tell me that she is leaving the house. I make sure she has a hat and gloves and remind her how important it is to call or text me as soon as she gets on the bus.
8:33 – I pass a sign on the road that tells me it id still one hour and twenty minutes to the Dan Ryan.
8:38 – Maureen calls to check on my progress. I cut our conversation short when I realize I still haven’t heard from Molly.
8:40 – I call Molly. She tells me that she is on the bus but that she forgot to call me. Of Course!
8:50 – Traffic pick up to an almost blazing speed of 40 mph. The inside of my car is now getting quite hot, but I am fearful of turning down the defrost because ice is starting to form on the windshield wipers. I just witnessed the car in front of me pull the ice scraper out the driver’s window trick, but I have been able to keep the ice off by running the wipers at full speed every now and then. So far it’s been working.
8:58 – Traffic comes to a halt just before the exit at Central. I am now stopped looking directly at a billboard for Bud Light Golden Wheat. I am a Miller drinker. Most Bud products do bad things to my insides. But right now, it is looking real good.
9:00 – I am officially late. I flip around the radio stations and stop on the Motley Crue cover of Smoking in the Boys Room. I hate this version but for some reason I stop. The original by Brownsville Station is much better. I wish they had played that.
9:04 – The next song is the Aerosmith cover of Come Together. It must be a theme. I’m a little torn on this one, because I really do like both versions. But when in doubt you have to go with The Beatles. I finally reach Central.
9:08 – Traffic starts to pick up. I probably should have gotten off and taken some side streets, but the road usually opens up around California. I have never been able to figure this traffic pattern out, but it is always consistent. It is not like a lot of cars exit at California, and the road doesn’t widen there.
9:17 - I reach California and the sign there tells me it is seven minutes to the Dan Ryan. As predicted, traffic opens wide up. I don’t get it. I’m almost speeding as I switch lanes to make my exit. Anyway You Want It by Journey takes me all the way to the south bound exit ramp. Then things come to a dead stop as a semi-truck creeps up the ramp. Is it just a coincidence that the next song is End of the World by REM?
9:32 - I arrive in the parking lot. There was an unusual amount of people exiting at 35th Street, but none of them seemed to be turning. I would imagine most of them were just looking to get out of the traffic. I park next to Ken’s Envoy and it has not been recovered with snow yet, so he must have just arrived too. As I step out of the car I check my zipper. I remember how the last one of these ended. The barn door was shut.
The rest of the day was busy but uneventful. It was just your average day at work,and soon the traffic hell was a distant memory. That is until the end of the day when we all realized we had to do it all again on the way home. And the really good news is that more snow is predicted for over night. I guess I better get some rest. I’ve got another long drive tomorrow.